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ing failed him, he wrote, “ Would you think that the sensation of death proves so painful?” His speech having returned, he said, “ My pains are insupportable. I have an age of strength, but not a moment of courage.” A convulsion ensued. It was followed by a loud scream-and he expired.
While he was in health he might be as full of courage as you now feel. When the hand of God is upon the stoutest of us, we are soon taught, that all our boasted strength is perfect weakness, and all our vaunted courage perfect cowardice. We may
We may be permitted for a time to carry on the war against God and his Christ; but it will not do. A sick bed, or a dying pillow, will, in all likelihood, bring us to our senses.
(40) A more extraordinary instance of impenitency I have not read, than that of a William Williams, who died in April, 1791. This unhappy man had been extremely wicked in his life. When he drew near his end, being about seventy years of age, he determined to make his will, and leave all he had from his wife and children, alledging that the latter were none of his. But though he bade fifty pounds as a reward, no persons could be found who would sign as witnesses. He desired, when he died, that a pair of clog shoes should be put into his coffin, that he might pound devils and damned souls with them in hell. Being reproved for his swearing and wickedness, he told those that reproved him, that he neither regarded them, nor their new God; he would curse and swear so long as he had breath.-He did so.-He ordered his body to be drawn in his own cart to be buried. It was so.—He charged that five shillings should be spent at every public house on the road. Some of it was so.--He desired he might be laid at the corner of the church-yard next the public house, that he might have the pleasure of hearing the company there curse and swear. He requested that every one of his companions would drink a health, standing upon his grave after it was filled up.They did so ; and continued to drink and make merry over his grave, for near two hours after the interment.
This shews us there are cases to be met with of persons, who are so hardened in their sin, and so totally given up of God, that neither sickness nor death can make any impression upon them. I remember one of this unhappy description whom I boil visited during his illness, and interred after he was dead. He was so to. tally depraved, that when one of his bottle-companions wrote
Or should these be so unfortunate as to fail, a day of judgment will assuredly do the business, which they had left undone.
" To die,--to sleep ;-
Must give us pause.” If man is a reasonable creature, there is an hereafter. And if there is an hereafter, it must be a state of retribution. A moral governor must deal with moral agents according to their moral conduct. The perfection of his nature requires it. I swear by the Eternal, therefore, all the denunciations of Scriptura shall have their accomplishment upon you, if you prevent it not by a compliance with the gracious and equitable demands of the gospel.
It surely is a very astonishing consideration, that a being such as man, placed on a small globe of earth in a little corner of the universe, cut off from all communication with the other systems, which are dispersed through immensity of space, imprisoned as it were, on the spot where he happens to be born, almost utterly ignorant of the variety of spiritual existences,
to inform him that he was about to die and go to hell, and desired to know what place he should bespeak for him there, he sat down and gave him for reply, that he did not care where it was, if there was only brandy and rum enough. Thus he lived-and, soon after this, died a martyr to spirituous liquors-cursing and blaspheming, notwithstanding all that could be done to bring him to a better mind. Being possessed of two bank bills of the value of ten pounds each, which was all the little property he had left: “ Now," said he to a person who stood by, “when I have spent these in brandy and rum, I shall be contented to die and go to hell !” He sunk, however, before they were expended, and left just enough to bury him.
These are shocking instances of obduracy, which seem to vie with haroah himself, and ought to warn every man how he trifles with the convictions of his own mind, and causes the Spirit of God to withdraw from hin.
and greatly circumscribed in his knowledge of material things, by their remoteness, magnitude, or minuteness, a stranger to the nature of the very pebbles on which he treads, unacquainted, or but very obscurely informed by his natural faculties of his condition af ter death; it is wonderful that a being, such as this, should reluctantly receive, or fastidiously reject the instruction of the Eternal God! Or, if this is saying too much, that he should hastily, and negligently, and triumphantly conclude, that the supreme Being never had condescended to instruct the race of man, It might have been expected, that a rational being, so circumstanced, would have sedulously inquired into a subject of such vast importance: that he would not have suffered himself to have been diverted from the investigation, by the pursuits of wealth, or honour, or any temporal concern; much less by notions taken up without attention, or prejudices imbibed in early youth from the profane ridicule, or impious jestings of sensual and immoral men.
It is customary with you who reject the Scriptures, to consider every believer of them as weak and credulous.(1) Suspend your censures, and reconsider the matter before you form a final judgment.-Do vou seriously think, that a man who believes in God, that he is the Creator and Governor of the world, and a rewarder of them that diligently seek him :-that a man who embraces the gospel as a dispensation of mercy, and conducts himself according to the letter and spirit of it, is a weak and despicable character? Can you, in the sober fear of God, esteem all the great men among Christians to have been un
(1) Let the more solid, rational, and inquisitive deist, who is in pursuit of moral and religious truth, and wishes to have bis mind satisfied in the great things which concern human happiness, have recourse to Clarke on the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Religion; and then let him say, whether all who believe in the Saviour of the world, are weak and credulous persons.
reasonable and deluded persons and that yourselves are the only men upon earth, who have found out true wisdom? Is it probable, that men of your description, who, in general, have never turned your thoughts seriously and conscientiously that way, and who are neither more moral, more sensible, more learned, more philosophical, nor more inquisitive than large numbers of Christians are found to be, should have made the wonderful discovery, that religion is all a cheat, and the Bible a ridiculous tale, trumpt up by the priests, to delude and amuse mankind, while many of our great philosophical characters of all professions, make it the study of their lives to comply with the fornter, and spend a considerable proportion of their time in the investigation of the latter? And it is of no little importance to ask, does your unbelief make you more moral, pure, chaste, temperate, humble, modest, thankful, happy? Are you more amiable in your manners than Christians usually are, better masters, servants, husbands, wives, children, friends, neighbours ?
Besides, are you not the most ungrateful of all human beings, in that you have derived the whole of your present peculiar light, information or philosophy, from the writings of the Old and New Testaments, and then make use of that light, information or philosophy, to discredit those writing and to make them ridiculous among mankind? If we want to know what pure nature can teach, we must divest ourselves of all our present ideas, collected from the writings of the Sacred code, and learn our religion from the pagan page alone. The most eminent of them saw and lamented their want of what you now so fastidiously reject.
“Pure Plato! how had thy chaste spirit ha:l'd
Of thy pure fancy more than realized !
As Deity made visible to sense.”
you not, as men of sense, review the bis tory of the several ancient nations of the world, and compare their religion and morals with the religion and morals of your own country, where the gospel has been preached for so many years? Common sense, and common equity seem to require this of you, before you commence apostates from the religion in which you have been educated. I shall here call to your remembrance a few facts culled out of the history of mankind. Make what use of them you please. Only give them a patient consideration, and a fair comparison with the religion of Jesus, as exhibited in the New Testament, and then act as you judge meet.
The Babylonians introduced the unnatural custom of human sacrifices. The Sepharvites, probably burnt their children in fire, to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
Among the Phoenicians, a father did not scruple to immolate his only child; a husband to plunge his knife into a heart as dear to him as his own, to avert some public misfortune.
In Carthage, the children of the nobility were sacrificed to Saturn. The calamities, which Agathocles brought upon that city, were believed by the inhabitants to be a punishment for the substitution of ignoble blood; and, to appease the wrath of God, they immolated 200 children of noble blood in one sacrifice,
The ancient Germans also sacrificed human victims Their priestesses opened the veins of the sufferers, and drew omens from the rapidity of the stream of blood.